WHEN Warren Ellis was only nine years old, he stumbled across a certain something in Ballarat that would instill in him a lifelong love for music.
“There was a tip in Alfredton where I grew up,” Ellis recalls. “I found an accordion there and my teacher at primary school gave me lessons. My mother made a case from a piece of material and I dragged it to school.”
With his father playing guitar for as long as he can remember, there’s no doubt that music played an integral role in Ellis’s life. The Ballarat-born musician also learnt classical violin and flute at school, and was inspired by the worlds of artists including Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Miles Davis and The Sex Pistols.
Fast forward to today, and the renowned musician and composer is living in Paris with his French wife and two children. Known for his work with the Dirty Three, Grinderman and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, as well as his compositions for film, his music has reached audiences worldwide, and he has performed at countless festivals across the globe and closer to home.
“I am always happy to play Meredith (Music Festival). It’s one of the best festivals around. We played the second year of its existence and it has been wonderful watching it grow and maintain integrity,” Ellis says.
In 2017, Ellis returned to his hometown along with Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds as part of a national tour. Ballarat was the only regional stop in Australia to host the band. “It was terrifying,” Warren says. “I remember the first song was a blur. It’s great to know you can still be nervous after so many years.
“Once I gathered my wits it was fabulous. The night before the show Nick asked me to show him where I grew up and ate fish and chips. I think that helped ground proceedings.”
While Ellis is a music legend of international acclaim, he strongly affirms that one’s hometown is “fundamental to what you do”. “It creates the push and the pull,” he says. “Growing up on the outskirts of town, where it felt easy to step into the unknown had an impact on me. I don’t really see a connection with what I do and my surroundings, but it obviously has an impact. For me the workings are internal.”
Nick Cave & Warren Ellis’ ‘Road To Banyon’ is the soundtrack to the Made of Ballarat teaser film. To view the piece, visit madeofballarat.com.au homepage and click on “Play”.